The Gordon Central Warriors struggled to find answers to the dynamic aerial attack of the Christian Heritage Lions during a 35-0 loss in its home opener on Friday night.
The Warriors (0-2) were victimized early and often by the potent duo of Lions’ quarterback Matthew Neff and wide receiver Zach Gentry. In sync from the opening whistle, the pair set the tone early by linking up for an 11-yard touchdown, with Gentry snagging a pass over the outstretched arms of a Gordon Central cornerback and coasting over the goal line to cap off a swift three-minute, nine-play opening drive.
After Gordon Central rewarded the Lions quintessential field position at the Warriors’ own five yard line, Neff bought time by rolling out to his right and tossing it to Gentry, who made an acrobatic grab while keeping his feet planted on the edge of the end zone to capture a 14-0 advantage as the first quarter drew to a close.
The Lions maintained firm control in the second quarter, as Neff dialed up perhaps his best throw of the evening on a 41-yard dime to wide receiver Evan Lester. Running back Gage Leonard promptly capitalized, slicing through the defense untouched for a 15-yard rushing score to push the margin to 21-0.
The Warriors once again provided allowed Christian Heritage to flip the field on the next possession as quarterback Brady Lackey tossed an interception to cornerback Will Brumlow near midfield. Ever the opportunists, Neff scrambled and launched the ball to Gentry, who had navigated through the Gordon Central secondary for a 28-yard touchdown and a 28-0 lead heading into the halftime locker room.
Although the second half proved largely quiet for both squads, Neff put the game firmly out of reach near the seven-minute mark of the third quarter by finding Lester in the painted area for a 10-yard passing score to reach the final 35-0 tally.
Neff finished the contest with 171 yards through the air. Gentry was the biggest beneficiary with 96 receiving yards. On the ground, Leonard rumbled for 47 yards, while running back Ethan Smith pitched in 36 rushing yards.
On offense, the Warriors had issues handling the pressure and penetration of the Christian Heritage defensive front, which stalled out the running game and prevented Lackey from getting comfortable in the pocket early.
Nelson Gravitt and Cam Pierce operated as Gordon Central’s most explosive offensive personnel. Gravitt accumulated 12 yards on the ground and completed a six yard pass to wide receiver Josh Wilson after taking over signal-calling duties in the second half. Pierce pieced together a couple nice runs in the first half to compile 10 rushing yards on limited touches.
The Warriors will look to get the season back on track next Friday when the team travels to Gilmer County (0-2) at 7:30 p.m.